By Paulina Pineda | The Republic
As Tempe’s first streetcar route is on track to open next spring, city officials and transportation planners are considering future routes that could connect to regional destinations in Tempe and Mesa.
The $201 million, 3-mile streetcar route that is under construction will loop around downtown Tempe, connecting riders to neighborhoods and business centers along Rio Salado Parkway, Arizona State University and the Valley Metro light-rail system.
Streetcars are smaller than light-rail cars and operate individually. Each vehicle will hold up to 125 passengers. The system is meant for shorter trips and the stops are similar to bus stops, occurring more frequently than light-rail stops.
Tempe leaders herald the project as a way to diversify public transportation, ease congestion and spur development along the route.
Now they’re eyeing future expansions.
Transportation planners began exploring an extension to Mesa in 2018. The study covers an area from Priest Drive to the west, Country Club Drive to the east, Loop 202 to the north and Baseline Road to the south.